The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is facing the urgent need to gain more ground in order to oust the Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition from power in the upcoming general election.
At a regular party convention on Sunday, Yukio Edano, leader of the CDP, expressed his eagerness to realize a change of power in the general election of the House of Representatives, set to be held by autumn as the Lower House members will reach the end of their term in office in October.
But the goal seems challenging for the CDP, which has been struggling to win public support, with some members of the party starting to question Edano’s leadership skills.
“Our goal is to be recognized as an alternative to take the reins of government and there is no magic bullet or clever trick to achieve that goal,” Edano told reporters after the convention.
“What we can do is to continue to boost our efforts in a step-by-step manner,” the leader added.
The party was newly established in September last year through the merger of the former CDP and the former Democratic Party for the People. The new party took over the name of the former CDP.
The new CDP has 109 Lower House lawmakers, almost the same as the number the former Democratic Party of Japan had right before gaining power in 2009. Many CDP members used to belong to the DPJ.
Despite recent falls in public approval ratings for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet, the main opposition party has been failing to attract support from those discontent with the administration, with its support rates remaining under 10%.
“The new party has been unable to escape the impression the public has toward the government of the former DPJ,” which was in power between 2009 and 2012, a person related to the CDP said. The lineup of the new party’s senior members, including Edano and Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama, is not much different from the executives of the former DPJ.
Since being ousted from power in 2012, the opposition force “has been focusing on criticizing the incumbent government over scandals and other matters, in the absence of slogans to counter the ruling bloc,” a middle-ranking CDP official said.
Amid the spread of the new coronavirus, the CDP is aiming to make a shift to focus more on making policy proposals.
During recent negotiations with the LDP, including over a bill to revise the special law for the fight against the pandemic, the CDP succeeded in having the LDP accept its proposals almost entirely.
However, it is still uncertain whether such movements will give a boost to the opposition party.
Some CDP members are showing their dissatisfaction with Edano. “As the leader of the largest opposition party gearing up for a Lower House election, Edano is not good enough,” a young CDP member said.
“We’ll have a party presidential election depending on the result (of the general election),” a middle-ranking CDP member said. The upcoming election would be a crucial event for not only the CDP but also Edano as the party’s leader.
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